Golf course architect Drew Rogers is to continue his work at Quail West Golf and Country Club as he prepares to commence work on the club’s Lakes Course.
The upcoming project at the club in Naples, Florida, follows on from his work on the Preserve Course. The work will focus on bringing the course up to modern standards, revitalising certain elements, and creating more variety and recovery options.
Rogers was involved in the creation of the Lakes Course 25 years ago when working as an apprentice for Arthur Hills.
“I was rather new in the job but Art and I flew down on a spur and, at that point, we had only done some preliminary land planning and corridor development for the Lakes,” Rogers said. “We met with the owner, Bob Hardy, and talked about this second course. I didn’t even know I’d be going till the day before.
“In the meeting, when they weren’t poking fun at each other, Art and Hardy quickly set about discussing the hard objectives for the second course. I just kept my mouth shut and took it all in. Then Hardy says, ‘Well, this needs to be done immediately, Art – we’re moving the dirt today on these initial nine holes with or without your plans.’ So Art says, ‘Well, Drew can stay here until the plans you need are done.’ I didn’t even have a bag packed — my first foray into having some design independence!”
Rogers worked to develop grading plans, before faxing them to Hills, getting his blessing and then going out onto the course to find the project manager and implement the plans.
Back to the present day, the upcoming work will see Rogers return to the Lakes course to build 18 new greens, 18 new, larger tee boxes, and rework the course’s bunkering. New green surrounds will also be created, with more recovery options, variety and short-grass extensions.
Celebration bermudagrass will also be introduced to the course, while a new irrigation system will be put in place.
“It will have all the benefits and feelings of a new golf course, but with much the same skeleton of the old,” Rogers said. “Unlike the Preserve – which was routed through an honest-to-goodness ‘preserve’, with loads of character, cypress hammocks and wetlands – the Lakes had nothing. It was an old tomato field actually with no innate features or relief. It had to be completely created and serve as the compelling focus for all the surrounding real estate development. But that also allowed for the golfing experience to be diverse – completely different than the Preserve – and we’ll be tweaking things here and there to further that notion.”
Rogers is delighted with the idea of returning to the course and viewing it objectively.
“It’s a straightforward test of golf, fair and attractive – the bones, as one might say, are quite good,” he said. “I can’t say that I was responsible for a lot of the original feature shaping. That was more Art and Mike Dasher, who guided the finite details from start to finish. I was the greenhorn observing and participating when people wanted to listen. We all aspired to build what Art’s vision was at that time. Later in my career, I developed more artistry and independence. But this course fit Art’s clean, clear characteristics, and we’re frankly not going to deviate from that. But we are going to make it even better.”